soooooooo......we left Utila. We arrived back in La Ceiba, and Ian had decided he wanted to do some white water rafting. dude we shared a taxi with told us about Jungle River Tours, who had an office at Banana Republic hostel. so off we went, they said right we'll send you up there right now, get in the truck....we're talking a big ex-army truck here. bulletproof, most likely. so off we go, us, two american guys called Lennis and Mark, and another American guy called Tim. we arrived at the lodge, and it was beautiful - right on the river, all very basic and simple but amazing views, the friendliest people, great food, two fab red parrots and the Rio Cangrejal. they went off rafting, but first their instructor Jonny made them swim across the river, climb up some huuuge rocks (like 20 feet high) and then jump off them into the river. then they went down the rapids, stopped for a break, went down some more rapids, had an amazing time. then they returned and told me about this trip......there was a waterfall we had seen just around the corner, higher than us, which fed into the river we were on. (i cannot remember the name, will have to email Tim to remind me) they told us we could hike up to the top of the waterfall, camp overnight, then either climb back down or rapel down the 90 metre waterfall. (its kind of like abseiling, you're on a rope and harness and you let yourself gradually down the waterfall, getting very wet and scared in the process). all this for $50 USD.
so the next day, off we went (me, Ian, Tim and the four guides, Jonny, Darwin, Marvin and Roberto), me feeling extremely apprehensive, the others very excited. we walked along the road to the place where we had to cross the river. i was expecting a bridge. oh no, no bridge. you wade. up to your waist. was not prepared for this. not having big tough feet like ian, i am not equipped for walking across the rocky bed of a fast river barefoot, so i had to keep my boots on. i stupidly rolled my trousers up - as if that helps when you're up to your waist in it....and still needed ian one side and darwin on the other, holding me up. so we got across, all rather wet, then proceeded with the rest of the journey. it's hard to describe the climb if you've never done anyting like it.....I'll just say it was i think the hardest physical challenge i have ever completed - and i completed it only with help from the others.
we reached the top just as dark was falling - tired, wet, bruised and muddy - and found ourselves in a clearing at the very top of the waterfall, with an amazing view across the jungle below us. apparently once we got to the last half hour or so of the climb, we were in cloud forest rather than jungle - something to do with the leaves being larger and the tree cover...im not sure. anyway, the guys started unpacking straight away, lighting a fire, putting up tents, and producing pots, pans, plates and food. suddenly i realised just how heavy their packs had been on the climb - they were amazing, we only carried small daypacks with a change of clothes etc, and they carried all of this!
we sat, slightly dazed, staring out at the view and trying to find dry clothes to wear, until they called us for dinner - the tastiest soup ever, and baked fish - delicious. we ate our fill, and then came the grand finale......roasted marshmallows! no camping experience is complete without them, right? before long it started to rain, and though it was only about 8pm, we were exhausted and could not afford to get our only dry clothes rained on, so we went to bed.
next morning i woke up totally confused, because although it seemed the sun was only just up, my watch said almost 10am. feeling guilty for sleeping so long and wondering why the guides hadnt woken us, i hauled myself out of the tent, and went in search of them. apparently it was only 7am. thats what you get for buying a watch for 5 quid from superdrug i guess.
once again the guys worked their campfire magic, producing porridge and marshmallows for breakfast ( yes mum, thats right, i ate marshmallows for breakfast. sorry) . then we had to face the task ahead. rapelling down the waterfall. i finally got jonny to explain exactly what it was going to involve.....and then chickened out. who was i kidding?? im scared of even climbing ladders!!! so i started to breathe normally again, and the guys got kitted out with their harnesses and helmets, ready to descend. the waterfall is 90m high, and from the top that is a looooooong way down....their ropes (which seemed oh-so-thin) were tied around a very sturdy tree, and ian tied his kenyan flag round his neck like a cape, ready to descend, superhero style! unfortunately due to the backpack underneath it and the helmet, he looked less superman, more teenage mutant ninja turtle. or should that be kenyan mutant ninja turtle? either way, off they went, first jonny and darwin together, then tim, then finally ian (leaving him lots of time to get nervous...nobody likes to go last do they). i think the idea was to go down one side of the waterfall, but ian spent most of his time in it apparently, and missed the ledge halfway down that he was supposed to stop at...anway he said it was awesome - terrifying and cold, but amazing.
they went pretty quickly, and then the remaining two guides at the top with me untied the ropes and we began hiking down. now, hiking up is very hard work, but at least if you slip you're facing the right way to grab hold of something and stop yourself. i slipped whilst hiking down tho...i was holding onto a tree at the time, and clung on for dear life, but then smashed my ribs off the next one. ouch. looked a lot worse than it was tho - knocked the wind out of me and left a nice bruise but no lasting damage. and hey, i think the big bruise on my shin from the hike up wanted some company.
we met up with the others and carried on hiking down to the bottom, by a different route than we'd entered, which led us to straight opposite the lodge. there was still a bloody great river in the way tho. i saw the dingy waiting and thought brilliant, i dont have to get wet this time. but no, that was just for all the equipment. *TIP* never try swimming across a river fully clothed, wearing hiking boots. there's a reason james bond always stops to take his shoes off before he jumps in to save the damsel in distress. I have come to some conclusions. I am not a golden labrador. water is not my element.
So, im sure i have missed loads out, and i know i should've written it as soon as we did it, and i'm sure ian will tell me i didn't tell it right - but to be honest, it was an amazing experience and i'm not really sure anybody could explain it properly. i think you just have to experience it for yourself.....but for those of you that can't, i hope i gave you the general gist of it. oh and for those of you who still dont get it.....there's the dvd! they filmed the whole thing, and we have it on dvd! havent actually had chance to watch it yet, must do that. will try to send a copy home soon.
so, very quick roundup of events since then - went from la ceiba down to Tegucigalpa (capital of honduras), stayed one night there, got the bus next morning to managua (capital of nicaragua), straight from there to Granada, arrived tired, hot and stinky, desperate for a shower. no, there's a water shortage, no water. fantastic. no beds at first hostel, went to a second one, nice place, very clean. stayed the weekend, then on monday went to Isla de Ometepe in lake nicargua. got on wrong bus there, ended up on the wrong side of the island, walked over a mile up a muddy rocky lane in the dark to find the hostel, exhausting. woke up next morning - pretty place but not really what we were looking for. stayed two nights, came back to granada, staying here for christmas. going to the Corn Islands for new year hopefully, looks like paradise, hope its as good as it seems.
will write more about granada soon hopefully, but for now i've really had enough of typing! so adios amigos, and if i dont speak to some of you before the big day then have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!!! wishing you all lots of Christmas cheer and i hope santa brings you everything you wished for!
love from Erica and Ian xxxxx